Madison Horn started her restaurant Horn-O-Plenty in Bedford to highlight the works of the Pennsylvania farmers and butchers. She was asked to participate in the competition by the Second Lady of Pennsylvania, Gisele Fetterman. She feels she has something to prove because she’s competing against twelve other chefs.
“I was definitely nervous,” Horn said. “I thought I had to step up my game cause I’m representing Pennsylvania. You know there are 13 other chefs from all around the states. I feel like an underdog.”
However, she plans to showcase all the flavors of local farmers and seafood from the Chesapeake Bay through her three dishes. She wants to showcase the bottom feeders of the Chesapeake Bay and show its significant role in the state.
She plans to use shrimp, clams, crabs, and seaweed in her dishes. She knows that they say a lot about the water quality and the lack of diversity within the fish if it continues to be polluted.
“I decided to focus on foods out of the Chesapeake,” Horn said. Then, I started thinking about the big picture and how Pennsylvania plays a huge role in the Chesapeake Bay, which is 40 percent of our waterways and up the Chesapeake, so I was like, this is great.”
While she considered herself a seafood novice, Horn still uses each of those ingredients differently in each of her dishes.
For example, she decided to fry shrimp feet to add a crispy element. However, her manager Carla Kagarise helped her during the process of finalizing her dishes, mainly focused on finetuning everything. Kagarise will also be traveling to New Orleans as Horn’s sous chef.
“She’s been consulting with me since she learned she was going back and forth about what she wanted to do,” Kagarise said. “I think her theme with the whole bottom feeder is great. The choices she picked for seafood were good.”
“I decided to incorporate some Pennsylvania Forest Bottom feeders. So, we’re the number one agriculture in mushrooms,” Horn said. “So I’m doing a ramp pasta with clam sauce. I’m doing a clam, seafood, mushroom chowder, and a seaweed salad with shrimp.”
While the competition’s grand prize is unclear, Horn said she’s proud of the recipes she achieved. She hopes the judges can leave with a better taste of Bedford and understand the importance of the Chesapeake Bay.
“I already feel like a winner; it doesn’t matter to me,” Horn said. “I honed in on a real awesome recipe that I’m proud of. We utilize the ingredients differently.”
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The competition begins this Saturday. If Horn does win the competition, she plans to incorporate all those recipes on her menu.
Learn more about the Chesapeake Bay Foundation here.